Latest News

15
Apr

ALJ: ‘Red Zone’ Violation Not Aggravated Conduct

A judge has rejected MSHA’s finding of unwarrantable failure against an Illinois coal producer, who the agency claimed must have known miners were working in the “red zone” around continuous mining machines (CMM) yet failed to enforce a rule against the unsafe practice.

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14
Apr

GAO Backs MSHA’s Review of Science for Black Lung Rule

MSHA did not rely on recent trends in prevalence data for coalworkers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) in developing its black lung rule, a government auditing agency has concluded.

In reaching that conclusion, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stood behind its conclusion from an earlier report that MSHA evaluated appropriate data to determine that lowering miners’ exposure to coal dust would reduce disease levels. 

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11
Apr

2 Killed at Missouri Lime Plant

Two people were killed this morning at an underground lime plant in Missouri.

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11
Apr

Newspaper Blasts Coal Official over Mine Safety Enforcement

In the wake of a deep funding cut and reduced state safety inspections of Kentucky coal mines, the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper has skewered a coal industry executive who advocates that states be the “primary regulators” with MSHA relegated to an oversight role.

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11
Apr

New Rule Mandates Proximity Detection Systems in West Virginia

Beating MSHA to the punch, West Virginia has become the first state to require proximity detection devices on continuous mining machines (CMMs) in underground coal mines.

Under a rule unanimously approved Wednesday by the state’s Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, proximity detection systems will be required by July 2017 on CMMs already in use.  New CMMs will be required to have them by next January 1; rebuilt CMMs, by July 1, 2015.  Proximity detectors warn miners when they get near and shut down automatically when they get too close.

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11
Apr

Preliminary 2013 Mining Data Holds Good News and Bad

There was good news and bad in MSHA’s release this week of preliminary injury and enforcement data from 2013.

The good news is that the total injury rate in both the Coal and Metal/Non-Metal (M/NM) sectors declined to record lows during the year.  The figures were 3.08 and 2.11, respectively; in mining overall, 2.46. 

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11
Apr

Miller to Retire with Mine Reform Goal Unfulfilled

U.S. Rep. George Miller will not realize his long-held hope for Congress to enact mine reform legislation before he retires.

On Wednesday, Miller (D-CA) and fellow Democrats on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce submitted an amendment to labor-related legislation under consideration by the committee. The amendment was in the form of a bill, the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act, which Miller has been trying to enact for years.

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8
Apr

MSHA Recalls 5000-23 Forms

MSHA is recalling Form 5000-23 booklets it sent to mine operators in error after some operators called the agency to question what they’d received.

“The wrong forms were inadvertently printed,” MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said in an email this morning in response to our inquiry to explain the problem.  “MSHA personnel have been notified.  The forms have been recalled and we will issue the correct ones.”

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7
Apr

Aggregate Miner Dies in Virginia

An aggregate miner has died after being struck on the head at a sand and gravel mine in Virginia.

David K. Benner, Director of the state’s Division of Mineral Mining, identified the victim as Robert J, Devich, 64, of Virginia Beach. Devich, a certified foreman with 31 years’ mining experience, was killed at Baillio Sand Co., Inc.’s Lord Farm #5 Mine in Virginia Beach County.

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4
Apr

Judge Vacates Citations Based on Absence of Visual Proof

An inspector shut down a haul road twice within eight days due to muddy conditions, but a judge threw out the associated two citations after finding the inspector never observed any of the operator’s vehicles on the road.

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4
Apr

ALJ: Operators Must Supply Safety Equipment and Enforce Its Use

Merely providing miners with multigas detectors does not satisfy MSHA requirements unless there is evidence the operator also enforces their use.

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3
Apr

Whyatt Named to Lead New NIOSH Mining Division

Jeffrey Whyatt has been named Acting Director of the Spokane Mining Research Division (SMRD), a new division within the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Program. The appointment is effective immediately.

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3
Apr

MSHA Faults Operator for Fatality during Retreat Mining

A miner was killed and two others were injured when a coal pillar burst during retreat mining, work MSHA had previously advised the mine operator not to undertake due to unfavorable conditions.

Veteran continuous mining machine operator Lenny Gilliam, 56, was killed in the accident in August 2013 at Lone Mountain Processing, Inc.’s Huff Creek No. 1 Mine in Kentucky.  Another miner survived life-threatening injuries in the accident, and a third miner received minor injuries.

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3
Apr

MSHA Issues Reminder about Corrective Action Programs

MSHA has issued a Program Information Bulletin to remind the mining industry of the process for submitting a corrective action program (CAP) as a mitigating circumstance to avoid pattern of violation (POV) status and of the tools available to assist operators in monitoring their compliance status.

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2
Apr

MSHA Releases Report on Fatal Fall

An inadequately secured cable tray and improper positioning of a worker on a stepladder led to a fatal fall last October 17 at a California cement plant.

Fernando Rivera, 52, died in the incident at National Cement Company of California’s Lebec Cement Plant in Kern County. Rivera, who had nearly 5½ years’ experience at the plant as a journeyman electrician, died two days later. 

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2
Apr

MSHA: Ground Control and Training Lapses Led to Georgia Fatality

Failure to monitor and stabilize ground conditions coupled with a failure to provide task training on a new mining procedure led to the death of a Georgia miner.

MSHA said Paul D. Barnes, 53, a water cannon operator with 19 years of mining experience, died when the bank of a trench he was standing on collapsed, engulfing him.  It took more than five hours to recover his body.  The accident occurred last December at Brown Brothers Sand Co.’s Wittchen Stephen Plants, an industrial sand operation in Talbot County.

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2
Apr

Policy Memo Coming as OIG Tells MSHA It Could Do More on Under-reporting

A policy memorandum is coming from MSHA on Part 50 requirements and injury and illness under-reporting.

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1
Apr

Participants in UBB Documentary Decry Film’s Intent

A documentary about the Upper Big Branch-South (UBB) Mine tragedy by the former CEO of Massey Energy Co. has led two individuals who appear in it to forswear their association with the production.

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28
Mar

Operators Required to Report Injuries Involving Contract Workers

An appeals court has rejected a Virginia coal operator’s objection to an MSHA citation it received for failing to report an injury to a contract worker that the contractor had already reported.

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28
Mar

Senators Seek Answers to Missed MSHA Inspections

Two U.S. senators are wondering why MSHA has not been conducting regular inspections at a nuclear waste storage site in their state.

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Sharpe’s Point: On Mine Safety provides exclusive, up-to-the-minute news and articles on critical safety and health topics for mining industry professionals, industry lawyers, agencies and educational institutions.

 

IN THE APRIL ISSUE OF SHARPE'S POINT: ON MINE SAFETY

State Grants Funding Fight Heads into Round 2

Another Round of Lobbying Foreseen

NIOSH Compiles Lessons Learned to Speed Mine Rescue

Rescue by Capsule Made More Efficient

Legal Briefs

Civil Cases Worthy of Note

MSHA Vacates Controversial Training Citations

Agency Still Has the Last Say

Guest Comment: MSHA’s Enforcement of Fall Protection

Lawyer Advises ‘Reasonable Person’ Approach

Guest Opinions: The UBB Explosion and Investigations

Differing Views about Tragedy

Syndicate content

Coming Events

April 22-23, Labor Department Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Sponsor: Energy and Mineral Law Foundation

May 8, Chaparral Suites, Scottsdale, AZ

May 12-15, Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Poll

If MSHA Disappeared and the States Did Not Pick Up the Enforcement Slack, Would Safety and Health in Mines Get Worse?
Yes
59%
No
29%
Not Sure
12%
Total votes: 17

Current Regulatory Agenda

Proposed (P) Final (F)

MSHA
(F) Respirable Coal Dust Dec '13
(F) Prox Detect Devices: CMMs Feb '14
(P) Fees for Product Testing Dec. '13
(
P) Civil Penalties Dec '13
(P) Prox Detect Devices UG May '14
(P) Silica Jun '14

OSHA
(F) Confined Space Construction Feb '14
(F) Update NAICS Apr '14
(F) Slips, Trips, Falls Jun '14
(P) Cranes/Derricks Dec '13
(P) Beryllium Apr '14
(P) I2P2 Sep '14

Fatalities

          2014

     
  • Coal 3
  • Aggregates 2
  • Other M/NM 4

Total 9

         2013

  • Coal 20
  • Aggregates 12
  • Other M/NM 10

Total 42

         2012

  • Coal 20
  • Aggregates 10
  • Other M/NM 6

Total 36

    2011
  • Coal 21
  • Aggregates 8
  • Other M/NM 8

Total 37

 

 

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